ABOVE: Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford were a match born out of poor management ... that has created all kinds of unnecessary drama for the Eagles. INSET: Eagles fans tend to forget Nick Foles, whom Bradford replaced, went 15-9 as a starter here, tossing 46 TDs to just 17 INTs.
by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Chip Kelly started all this.
Seriously, you wanna point a finger at someone who triggered this spring’s soap opera in South Philly, at someone who set the stage for all the silliness that has taken place between Sam Bradford and the Eagles, well, send it in Chip’s direction.
Considering how prone to blame for everything else wrong with the Eagles that Kelly is around here, it’s quite astounding how he has avoided attributable fault in this mess.
But think about it. Bradford never asked to come here. His agent, Tom Condon, never pushed for him to be traded here. Even the Eagles’ organization, outside of Kelly, never really showed any strong desire to have him here.
No, it was Kelly who brought Bradford to town 14 months ago, and traded Nick Foles and a second-rounder to get him.
Not because he wanted Bradford as his starting quarterback, but because he thought the player would serve as a more marketable bargaining chip in a ridiculously ill-conceived attempt to select 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, who had starred as Chip’s QB during the coach’s wildly successful stint at the University of Oregon, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Get past all the “wow, blockbuster deal” BS and claims from Kelly that “Sam’s our guy” back then, the whole crux of the matter was he deemed Bradford a more valuable commodity – to others, at least – than Foles, that he’d be far more able to parlay the former than the latter into a deal that could, if not immediately land Mariota, set the stage to get in position to select him.
Was never gonna happen. Tennessee, holding the No. 2 pick, coveted Mariota and was committed to taking him … after Tampa Bay, holding the No. 1 pick, did the obvious and selected 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston. Both things, as we know, occurred. As expected.
That left Bradford here, the classic consolation prize – not necessarily disliked, but not exactly wanted, either. Yeah, he’d be the starter and he’d be deemed better than backup Mark Sanchez, training-camp casualties Tim Tebow and Matt Barkley, and, by some but not all, the guy he was replacing, Foles.
Why, who knows?
Reality is, Bradford had hardly established himself as anything more than average during five injury-plagued pro seasons since being taken with the top overall pick by St. Louis in 2010, and he certainly hadn’t delivered wins and touchdowns at rates to even remotely compare with Foles.
Entering last season, Bradford had 18 wins and 59 TDs in 49 career starts. Foles had 15 and 46 in 24.
But perception often rules, and Eagles fans and a lot of the Philly sports media bought it, becoming Bradford backers and excuse-makers all through a classic Bradford fall, where highs and lows proved to be just intermittent showers during a cloudy state of mediocrity.
Funny thing is, the organization, apart from Kelly, never bought it. Which is why you didn’t hear any long-term contract talk for Bradford once the coach was kicked out the door a week before the regular season ended. Instead, with Howie Roseman back in charge, the team finally came to an agreement on a short-term, “prove it” deal with Bradford before free agency hit.
Again, classic consolation prize – not necessarily disliked, but not exactly wanted, either … at least not long-term. Especially with the added zinger to Bradford that his eventual replacement, Carson Wentz, was taken No. 2 after some serious wheeling and dealing by Roseman shortly thereafter.
Sure, Bradford, his agent and the Roseman-ruled Eagles have played their parts in this drama more suited for daytime television. But Kelly has the lead role, because he got the whole thing going in the first place – acquiring a guy he most likely didn’t want to get another he definitely did, but had no shot to get.
Chip, meet finger. It’s pointed directly at you, just as it should be this time.
Sure, Bradford, his agent and the Roseman-ruled Eagles have played their parts in this drama more suited for daytime television. But Kelly has the lead role, because he got the whole thing going in the first place – acquiring a guy he most likely didn’t want to get another he definitely did, but had no shot to get. Chip, meet finger. It’s pointed directly at you, just as it should be this time.
ADDITIONAL 2 CENTS
If it were me, never would’ve traded Nick Foles.
Not along with a second-round pick for Sam Bradford.
Not straight up for Sam Bradford. Frankly, not straight up for anyone.
The Eagles, as they’ve been since Terrell Owens held his public crunching session in the parking lot of his then-South Jersey home more than a decade ago now, are a work in progress. Step up here. Step back there. Big win here. Big loss there.
They’ve had very little continuity, especially on the field, since falling to the New England Patriots following the 2004 season.
Foles, frankly, game them something that they sorely lacked – a shot at stability … with a homegrown talent.
Taken in the third round in 2012, he wasn’t a killer prospect or dead weight. But the kid had tools, and once he was put into the starting lineup he showed he could win – something Bradford, now in his seventh NFL season, has yet to do.
His biggest flaw, from what the eyes behind these words could see: listening to the nitwits, including coaches, proclaim that he needed to get rid of the ball sooner and take fewer sacks. This after a 2013 season in which he threw 27 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions while recording the second-best passer rating in the history of the NFL to that point. Oh, and also while directing the Birds to a 10-6 record and playoff berth.
So, of course, trying to appease everyone else, Foles adjusted his game, started unloading the ball earlier than he wanted … and promptly began getting picked off.
To me, that’s an easy fix. Just say, forget all the coachspeak crap and play your game … and him and the team would’ve been just fine. Never needing to trade for Bradford … or even Carson Wentz.